Having met absolutely none of my financial goals by the age of 35, I retired early anyway. Why not get a jump on the golden years of my life? After all, several of my friends were already retired, having hit it big in the internet boom. I wasn’t quite so lucky, but let’s face it; the only difference between me and them is about $40 million. It’s only money, and I wasn’t really contributing much to the American economy in the first place. Besides, that $9 trillion debt we carry is depressing.
Retiring early has a lot going for it. While death remains certain, taxes are no longer a concern. That alone has probably added five years to my life. I don’t know that I’ll be able to afford those extra five years, but I’ve got them, just in case. The past seven years since retirement have been the best of my life, and it keeps getting better. I’ve finally had a chance to do most of the things I really wanted to do – I painted in the French countryside, ran with the bulls in Pamplona, climbed Little Big Horn, surfed the Maui Pipeline, dined with the Aga Khan, roller-skated in a buffalo herd, started a food fight, wrote poetry in Havana, had a three-way, pondered the Universe, and ... I still sleep late on weekdays.
It wasn’t always so easy. After graduation, I slaved away as a Teaching Fellow for fair Harvard for six years, but those tossers in University Hall didn’t care. Twenty billion in the bank and I get $500 bucks a month, with no mental health insurance. Come on, where’s the love? I wised up quick and gave all my students A’s. It’s not like they weren’t smart. Actually, I let them grade themselves. Self-grading is currently revolutionizing higher-education thanks to me, despite protests by those stiffs in the Bok Teaching Center and their anti-grade inflation ringleader, Professor Harvey C (minus) Mansfield. The students seemed to enjoy it most, and it sure freed up my life. I even applied it to myself come evaluation time. I won teaching awards all six years.
I liked staying close to Harvard – I got locked into Widener Library with my girlfriend (I’ve got the record I’m sure) and I sneaked peaks at the Primal Scream streakers during exam time. Sure, I was balding by then, but I kept the video camera focused on the nude ones. Girls Gone Wild beat me to it, though. To supplement my income, I took my brilliant ideas over to the Church Street Kinko’s and joined the fast-track management program. You may recall Kinko’s special ICU diversity hiring program for blind people. That was all me. I couldn’t believe no one else had seen the possibilities. Blind people are perfect copiers because that bright green copy light doesn’t damage their eyes, like it does regular folks. Just think of the increased efficiency in not having to close the lid for each individual copy, not to mention the millions saved in eye care premiums. Kinko’s received a lot of community goodwill for hiring such a challenged group. What’s not to like? It’s a win-win, and how was I thanked? I got the axe when FedEx bought them out. They claimed I was harassing customers who couldn’t see the white arrow on their logo.
I kicked around Craigslist a bit posing as an odd-job lifer. You won’t believe the things people ask you to do when they get you in their homes. Housewives were my favorite employers, especially Amanda, a lithe blonde in Beacon Hill. She was a LifeCoach, among other things, and also very depressed. I eased her out of her suffering with my hands-on sessions and soon realized my true calling as a LifeWhisperer™. Most people don’t know it, but there are times when even LifeCoaches need a coach. Enter me, the master LifeCoach, or LifeWhisperer™ as I termed it. It’s a niche market. I won converts the world over with my I Love Me™ tagline. We all need to love ourselves more. The New Yorker called my short mantra the three wisest words in the whole English language. Love of self is the key to happiness. If you can find yourself irresistible, nothing else matters.
Life was very, very good. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down when I expanded too fast into West Africa. I established a new weight loss-cum-service-and-tanning cultural retreat in Ghana. All these diet-for-life two-ton tessy Wal-Marters are depressing America, and giving the French room to claim superiority in shapeliness. Why not send our fat friends over to Africa for a little six-week community service course? Build mud homes for poor farmers, learn a new culture, get a tan, catch some light intestinal worms and lose weight – Guaranteed! And fun for the whole family. I even instituted a special spiritual add-on with a local medicine man. Kwame’s dolls are all the rage now on Ebay. Unfortunately, my admissions crew cut a few corners which led to a minor sex scandal. General Rawlings kicked us out of the country, and I lost it all in a Kipling-esque rendition of If.
I know many of you are wondering – seven years of no work and no savings – how do I pay for things? Well, I’m no dummy. I paid attention outside the classroom and some of it stuck. The credit card companies are working hard to end the injustice of overregulation in the financial markets. Six billion offers of credit were put forth last year, and I accepted hundreds of them – all at 0% APR. They have yet to catch on to my schemes, nor have my parents, especially on the big mortgage I took out on their home. It’s all in my name of course, so they are protected. Now don’t get the wrong idea. I have never had a late payment, never had a default, and I have an impeccable credit rating. There are ways; loopholes if you will, and if you’re interested, I suggest you buy my book, Passion for Life, which explains how to invest in yourself by having others invest in you – all at 0% APR. Debt looms, yes, but my next book, Pass It On, based on the Trump financial models, recommends an artful bankruptcy strategy. Besides, I know, like all economically challenged Americans, that one day I will win the lottery. That’s why I don’t mind when our government lowers the taxes for all of you – my wealthy friends and classmates. I have learned, like The Donald and The Dubya, if you love yourself, solvency doesn’t matter.
Many of my classmates realized early on that ten dollar-a-barrel oil would not last as long as we had a Texan in the White House. Unlike them, I did not invest in oil stocks, but those high gas prices are not a problem. Fast-food handles my fuel needs. I converted my 1976 Mercedes sedan long-ago to run on used cooking oil. I just pull up to McDonalds or Burger King, and fill her up for free. I have it my way, and I’m lovin’ it. I’m doing my part for Mother Earth, are you?
Health care remains an issue as I’m not insured. I moved to sunny Los Angeles last year to take advantage of the natural, active lifestyle. I eat a standard diet of greens, potatoes, and a tasty tofu-substitute: beef. It’s working fantastic. I haven’t been to the doctor yet, and I get a free massage everyday at Ceragem. Massachusetts is now offering health insurance for all, and I’ve got an inside-track on getting Coverage. My healthy California lifestyle will save the citizens of Massachusetts money. Heck, they should open their system to all Californians; we’re a lot cheaper than those sausage-eating Southies who spike the premiums every time they implode from constipation.
Spiritually speaking, I feel like I’ve finally found my center, and it weighs about 30 pounds more than it did in college. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve done the hard work – yoga retreats, male-bonding rituals, Indian sweat lodges, even the Hoffman Process. I haven’t reached nirvana yet, but I’m on the path. Rilke says, “I can’t make every minute holy,” but ... I have a lot more time to try now.
Believe it or not, life works out. Sure I miss out on those hip Xenii parties in LA, but to be honest; those parties are just a high class brothel one step removed, like a private game reserve where big bucks pay top dollar for the chance to shag the stag or doe of their dreams. Add alcohol to the mix and they don’t stand a chance. Just ask Dick Cheney. I prefer dating on an equal playing field; that’s why I go to the library, it’s free.
And the best news of all about early retirement: I can still have children. Yes, ladies, I am single, and I am ready and willing. And in twenty years, when my Social Security kicks in, I’ll have their Harvard tuition covered.
My dear classmates, I look forward to lighting up with each of you at our reunion.
I. Joseph Furphy ‘86
P.S. For you 420 friendly types out there, retirement is a game changer. Life’s a hit 24/7.